Generally speaking, parables are stories that convey spiritual and Biblical truths. While our Lord often spoke in parables, His parables were unique in that they were not to be hidden to those with eyes to see and ears to hear. Even the disciples, though, when they heard Yeshua speaking in parables, had to have Jesus expound to them on the spiritual messages and meanings behind many of His parables.
Today, however, believers have the Holy Spirit to lead and guide them. With hopefully a very good knowledge of the Holy Scriptures through personal Bible study, along with the leading and teaching of the Holy Spirit, the believer will have all they need at their disposal to properly understand Christ’s parables when meditated upon.
What is really cool about our Lord’s parables is that often, in certain portions of His parables, they can be found to be taken quite literally when one compares other Scriptures for validation on the correct interpretation. The Parable of the 10 Virgins would be one such example.
When it comes to The Parable of the 10 Virgins, it is essential that one understands the immediate contextual narrative, as this parable is located in Christ’s teaching on the rapture in the Olivet Discourse. Jesus begins His teachings on the rapture after the cut-off verse – “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My Words shall not pass away” – in every account of the Olivet Discourse in the synoptic gospels. In Matthew’s account, Christ’s teaching on the rapture begins at Matthew 24:36 and continues through The Parable of the 10 Virgins.
(Matthew 25:14-30, The Parable of the Talents, could also be considered a rapture parable in typology — that of reckoning rewards to true believers and punishment to professing Christians who are not really saved when He comes back to them at the end of His long journey.)
If one does not understand this, they may come to a problematic interpretation that will only confuse and confound the body of Christ.
As we are accustomed to do, we will be dissecting The Parable of the 10 Virgins, looking into other corroborating Scriptures, and offering complimentary commentary.
Underlined Scripture passages are my own emphasis.
Our Lord most often used parables to describe the Salvation Kingdom – kingdom of God/kingdom of heaven – in the church age, and this parable is no exception. The kingdom of God/kingdom of heaven begins for the believer in the Salvation Kingdom upon conversion and will culminate in the Eternal Kingdom when God makes His abode with mankind on a new Earth, under a new heaven (Revelation 21:1-3).
“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.” – Matthew 25:1
The Parable of the 10 Virgins immediately opens with identification of the Salvation Kingdom in the church age (the kingdom of heaven), professing believers (ten virgins), their true spiritual conditions (to be revealed in their lamps), and the rapture (to meet the Bridegroom).
As is commonly known, the rapture has an immense spiritual connection with the Jewish-Galilean wedding ceremony. Regarding a basic summary correlation of the Jewish-Galilean wedding ceremony with the rapture of the bride of Christ, please consider the following and note John 14:2-3:
Once the bridegroom (Yeshua) has prepared a place to live with his bride (Christ’s church) at his father’s house (the Father’s house in heaven), the father (Father God) will send his son (the Son of God) to fetch his bride (Christ’s church) when the father deems it to be the right time. The groom (Yeshua) will come unannounced in the middle of the night (back to Earth in the air, a time known to no one other than the Father) to fetch his bride (Christ’s church) to take her back to the place he has prepared for her at his father’s house (the many rooms in the Father’s house in heaven that Christ is preparing for us).
They will then have seven days together in their prepared room at the father’s house (seven years in heaven). After the seven days (seven years in heaven) are completed, the marriage supper with invited guests at the father’s house in the presence of the father will commence (The Marriage Supper of The Lamb in heaven in the presence of the Father).
“And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.” – Matthew 25:2
As we move along in this parable, we shall distinguish that the “wise virgins” are true converts to Christ, while the “foolish virgins” are false converts who profess Christ, deceiving both themselves and others of their profession of faith.
[Note: There have been some who understand properly that The Parable of the 10 Virgins is a rapture parable that have nonetheless suggested that the five foolish virgins are those who do not believe in a pre-Tribulation rapture and are therefore left behind. This is not accurate at all!
Christians who have truly put their faith and trust in Messiah Jesus and yet do not, for whatever reason, believe in a pre-Tribulation rapture will not be left behind. I have often joked that we will know those who do not believe in a pre-Tribulation rapture by the very surprised – yet very thankful – looks on their faces when we meet our Lord in the air!]
The understanding that the five wise virgins are true Christian converts, and the five foolish virgins are self-deceived false converts will become more apparent as the parable progresses.
“They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them…” – Matthew 25:3
Oil represents the Holy Spirit, and the foolish false convert virgins “took no oil with them” because they had not the Holy Spirit.
“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” – Romans 8:9
The Holy Spirit is the One who points others to the Son, Messiah Jesus, convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and those that come to Jesus Christ in faith will be saved and given the indwelling Holy Spirit.
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment… Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” – John 16:7-8, 13-14
It is the indwelling Holy Spirit within all believers at conversion that sets them apart from the world.
“But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.” – Matthew 25:4
Because they are true converts, the wise virgins had the indwelling Holy Spirit that sealed them for Christ and “is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.”
“That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” – Ephesians 1:12-14
“But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” – Romans 8:11
“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.” – Matthew 25:5
While the Bridegroom tarried (in heaven as He has for almost 2,000 years), the true and false coverts “slumbered and slept,” just as the Jewish-Galilean bride would be doing when her bridegroom came to fetch her in the middle of the night.
However, it could be suggested that Jesus, when He said, “… they all slumbered and slept,” was noting that all ten virgins were not watching and waiting as they should have been (vs. 13). This observation would not be surprising for the five foolish virgins, but it should never be characteristic of the five wise virgins.
If this is the case, then we should note that even true believers can find themselves lethargic and unprepared when it comes to the rapture. This interpretation corresponds perfectly with so many warnings from our Lord for the believer to be in a constant state of readiness, watching and waiting for His return at all times.
“Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” – Luke 12:40
“And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” – Matthew 25:6
This “midnight cry” parallels the analogy of our Lord coming “as a thief in the night,” as both are illustrations of the rapture.
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…” – 2 Peter 3:10a
“The day of the Lord” is initiated by the rapture, which “will come as a thief in the night.” [2 Peter 3 – Peter’s ‘Revelation’]
Paul spoke of the rapture using the exact analogy:
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God…” – 1 Thessalonians 4:16a
“Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.” – Matthew 25:7
Parabolically speaking, all ten professing Christians heard the cry that the Bridegroom was coming.
Does this suggest that the whole world will hear the “cry/shout” and “the trump of God” when the resurrection/rapture occurs? We do not know, but we should not let this parable dictate one way or another on this possibility, for we are just not told.
What this parable does suggest to us, though, is that the foolish false convert virgins truly believed that they were saved. This is why I said at the beginning of this study that these false convert foolish virgins deceived both themselves and others.
This is also why the Scripture declaratively warns professing believers to…
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” – 2 Corinthians 13:5
This is serious business!
“And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.” – Matthew 25:8
The foolish false convert virgins recognized that they did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit, represented by the oil, and asked of the true converts if they could obtain theirs. They thought they had oil, but they did not, just as a false convert erroneously believes that they are saved and are not and that they possess the Holy Spirit, but they do not.
The fact that their lamps went out may indicate that they had “good works” that followed them, but those “good works” were obviously not done from a truly contrite and saved heart. We will have more to say on this in Matthew 25:11-12.
Because salvation is an individual salvation, there is no way for someone else’s salvation to be of any effect on another. Neither family lineage nor heritage, profession of faith, friendships with true believers, or going to church and reading the Bible can obtain salvation for anyone, short of truly coming to Christ in saving faith, being born again, and obtaining the indwelling Holy Spirit within one’s own life.
“But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.” – Matthew 25:9
Of course, the Holy Spirit is not for sale, but the allusion of this section of the parable is that the foolish false convert virgins had deceived themselves into thinking they were saved when they were not and erroneously felt that the wise virgins could help them attain true salvation in their utter desperation. The only way to “purchase” their salvation is to come to Christ on Christ’s terms – which they obviously had not done – and “buy” for themselves true salvation in humility and sincerity of heart, which would procure for them the “oil” of the Holy Spirit.
Unfortunately, though, there is now no more time for the foolish false convert virgins to obtain what they thought they had – namely, salvation and the indwelling Holy Spirit. The wise virgins recognized that there was no way that their oil of the Holy Spirit could be transferred to the foolish virgins; the foolish virgins would need to acquire the oil of the Holy Spirit on their own and on Christ’s terms.
The foolish false convert virgins will have to go through the Tribulation and obtain the oil of the Holy Spirit through true faith and an honest conversion if they are to be saved.
“And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.” – Matthew 25:10
The time was at hand: “The Bridegroom came… and the door was shut” to the five foolish false convert virgins, as the five wise virgins “went in with Him to the marriage.”
While the false converts were seemingly earnest in trying to know the Lord and His Word and obtain the Holy Spirit from an actual conversion – something they should have done and made certain long ago – their opportunity to be a part of the marriage was lost.
“Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.” – Matthew 25:11
The foolish false convert virgins are now desperately trying to get into the marriage, pleading their case to the Lord.
Please pay close attention to these foolish false convert virgins when they say, “Lord, Lord,” as we will note the parallels between their statement and what our Lord taught in Matthew 7 below.
These five foolish false convert virgins can still come to Christ and obtain the Holy Spirit, but they will have to do so during the pouring out of God’s wrath on a God-hating, Christ-rejecting world and under the most excruciatingly intense period in human history.
“But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.” – Matthew 25:12
As false converts, the Lord knew them not. Therefore, they would have no choice but to go into the Tribulation and come to Christ then, if they so choose, by truly humbling themselves and earnestly seeking salvation on Christ’s terms with a contrite heart.
These same Words from our Lord will be heard from these foolish false convert virgins at The Great White Throne Judgment if they do not truly come to Christ in the Tribulation:
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” – Matthew 7:21-23
As in Matthew 25:11, where we read of the foolish false convert virgins exclaiming, “Lord, Lord,” these false converts in Matthew 7:21-23 who are judged at The Great White Throne Judgment also cry out, “Lord, Lord.”
Four of the saddest words anyone could ever hear from the Creator and Savior are, “I know you not” and/or “I never knew you.” Here is an important truth: Not only is it vitally important that any professing Christian comes to the real Jesus of Scripture in faith and to know Him personally, it is equally of vital importance that the real Jesus of Scripture personally knows you!
Those foolish false convert virgins, if they do not truly come to Christ in the Tribulation, will be crying out the exact same words at The Great White Throne Judgment that they did when they were left behind at the rapture, and will ultimately miss out on the culmination of the Salvation Kingdom they rejected – the kingdom of God/kingdom of heaven – the glorious Eternal Kingdom!
The parallels should not be missed.
“Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” – Matthew 25:13
This, and other passages like it, always refer to the rapture!
“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.” – Mark 13:32-33
And, once again, as Christ Jesus warned us all:
“Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” – Luke 12:40
So, dearly beloved, espoused and married to our Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ, and our loving Savior:
“Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” – Luke 21:36
Please, dear Saint, always be in a state of readiness, soberly watching and waiting for our Lord’s return for His bride like a wise virgin!
Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!
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